By Gloria Akaba
Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe has disclosed plans by the federal government to stop the importation of NPK fertiliser 151515 which has been proven to be of little help to farmers.
He said research has shown that for years many farmers have been applying it to all their crops without any impact on the yield or soil itself.
The Minister gave the indication after a joint meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and members of the National Food Security Council at the Presidential Villa on Friday.
Ogbe also gave indications that the Federal government was going to recapitalise the bank of agriculture where farmers can own shares and borrow funds on minimal interest rates
He said, “We calling for the ban of fertilizer NPK 151515 which has been in use in the country for many years but recent research revealed its not useful for any crop or any soil.
“Soils differ and so does crop, to believe there is one uniform fertilizer you can spread for every crop is a fallacy. And it’s because we have done soil test and change the formulations of fertilizers, local blenders that some of the yields we are getting now are rising from two tonnes per hectares to five and six. So the President is looking into that and see how we can deal with it.
“There are equally plans by the BPE to restructure the bank of agriculture after which farmers are going to be able to buy shares in the bank, so eventually it will become the farmers bank. And we hope in the process that it will bring down interest rates reasonably maybe 5 percent or a little higher, so that agriculture will become attractive and people can raise capital to invest.
“On herdsmen/farmers clashes, we are putting in place a programme now to see if we can aggregate all the wastes from harvest – from maize stock, rice stock, sorghum, Millets, beans, process them, add molasses and feed the cows instead of letting them roam around and getting to this conflict with the farmers”.
He noted there has been a decline in foreign exchange expenditure on food items in the last five years, especially on items such as sugar, milk, tomato and wheat.
He said in 2013 the country spent $1,424,968.1 importing these five food items, then the figure dropped to $1.280 billion in 2014.
“These are figures from the CBN. In 2015 the figure dropped further to $971 million and to $780.792 million and in 2017 the figure is now $628,643 million. The figure for the 2018 will be ready next year. You can see the decline in our importation of food, “he stated.